Dear oh dear. It’s difficult to say who’s come out worse this week, but according to Politics Home George Osborne has the dubious distinction of beating Peter Mandelson in the sheer column inches dedicated to his Corfu misdemeanours.

 

The Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and The Mail all sharpened their knives for Mandelson (The Mail’s Stephen Glover set the tone earlier in the week when he accused the BBC of going after Osborne while “Mandy is getting away with murder”).

 

But my pick of the day has to be the refreshing absence of an oligarch in the News of The World’s lurid front-page exposé on George Osborne:

 

 

The article dredges up various ‘revelations’ about the behaviour of the now-infamous Bullingdon Club, playing into the themes of elitism and privilege which have really been the backdrop of the past week’s stories involving Nat Rothschild’s set in Corfu.

As the interview winds to a close, vice girl Natalie Rowe strikes a melancholic note:

As Natalie this week surveyed the debris of Osborne’s relationship with his accuser Rothschild and pondered the reasons behind the row, she admitted: “I can’t believe George would want to annoy Nat. He knows so much about him… But Osborne’s sloppy, isn’t he?”

That condenses the general view this week into a few quick sentences.

The News of the World also has an exclusive piece claiming “Mandy” may be investigated by the European Commission over his links with a French private equity guru, Ernest-Antoine Seilliere. NotW reporter Jamie Lyons suggests Mandelson shared sensitive trade-talk information with Seilliere and pushed through certain policies under his influence. You start to wonder how many pies Mandelson got his fingers into in his time in Europe. A lot of journalists are going to be chasing those crumbs.

Elsewhere, The Observer has been doing some digging around Tory party funding and has uncovered a £1m loan made to the party in 2005 by Lady Victoria de Rothschild through a ‘non-trading’ company. Legislation barring loans from non-traders was passed a year later. Labour MP Denis MacShane accused David Cameron of “showing contempt for British democracy’s rules on party funding”. Again, you get the feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more stories in this vein in the coming weeks.

Andrew Rawnsley thinks both sides have been pretty foolish to fall into the lure of the super-rich. “There is a chasm between the haves and the have-nots,” he says. “It is into that chasm, despite all the repeated warnings of the dangers, that our politicians wilfully keep hurling themselves.”

In The Sunday Times, Martin Ivens makes the suggestion Brown wouldn’t mind losing Mandelson in exchange for toppling Osborne in a rook-for-queen swap. Interestingly, this is a variant on Chris Cutmore’s comment that Brown may have brought back his old enemy as a disposable absorbant for bad press and Opposition aggression.  Ivens adds: “The shadow chancellor has a precocious talent – as long as he has learnt something from his youthful mistakes, he can recover.”

The Telegraph wants to put pressure on Mandelson on several fronts – to publish full details of his meetings with Deripaska, to say whether they discussed aluminium tariffs, and to justify his misleading statement earlier in the week about how many times the pair had met. More excitingly, a source told the paper Mandelson’s long hand was most definitely behind Nat Rothschild’s letter to The Times. The Telegraph’s attitude to Osborne’s scandal is summed up when it mentions as an aside: “Media scrutiny of Lord Mandelson was diverted to George Osborne last week.”

Finally, on Friday the political gossip site Guido Fawkes posted an alluring bit of news simply saying “Deripaska/Mandelson tapes rumour”. The comment left by one reader sums it up: “Please God let it be true.”

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